Tuesday, September 9, 2008

at least it maintains lateral rigidity?

Michaela, my oldest, says she wants to learn to ride her bike without training wheels. I've tried a number of approaches but I've found the biggest obstacle to be that she doesn't want to learn in any more than two minute increments.

She seems to have inherited both my work ethic and my attention span. She'll have to work hard to...hang on...there's something shiny here...

Nevermind, it was nothing.

Now what was I saying? oh yeah, so my latest gimmick was to employ a tactic that Susie says she observed in Switzerland. The little kids there kick around on these little contraptions called Like a Bikes. They are basically a mini bike minus the drivetrain. The idea is the kid can put their feet down at any time, but still kick themselves around and learn balance in the process, almost a by product of the scooting. Totally makes sense, right? But I'm not gonna go spend 25o large on what amounts to a kiddy gap bike. But that's okay, I just decided to mod her current bike a little to create the same effect. It wasn't too difficult, removed the bottom bracket & crank (all one piece actually) and pedals, chain and guard. Aha, instant Like a Bike.

Two problems though First, kids bikes these days are crap. I am reluctant to spend $300 on a tiny kids bike from a big maker (Trek, Specialized, etc). So instead she has a Schwinn that we paid a little less than half that for. These cheaper bikes are targeted at what kids want, rather than what they need though. Kids want bikes that have coil shocks, and crazy tube designs that resemble the badass mountain frames they see around. Michaela's bike has quite a few needless welded buttresses and fatty tubes made to look like like aluminum or carbon, but they're not. They're very thick steel. I've never weighed her bike, but it's more on par with my mountain frame than my road frame. More than 30 pounds I think. This thing is difficult for her to handle and keep upright. I don't completely blame her for getting frustrated.

But I guess that is the other problem, she (like a lot of year olds, I imagine) wants to be instantly good at stuff, and not have to work at them. Since she can't ride her bike 'right now' then she just doesn't want to do it all. At least not for more than two minutes to verify that she hasn't suddenly learned the skills without her knowing. Oh well.

I gave up on the Like a Bike theory after she's now refused to get in the saddle for about a month. Drivetrain is back on, along with the training wheels. She is back riding around our sidewalks, but not as much as if she could ride without her trainers.

I can't wait until the someday when she graduates to a big girl bike. I guess it's all about the journey and not destination, right?


  1. Dang I'm impressed you tried the like-a-bike technique. But, once you've tasted speed (even with training wheels) I imagine it would be hard to give up. Maybe you can just mess with the training wheels so they don't actually do anything (ok, so life is cruel....) And it's true, like-a-bikes are meant for really small kids. Maybe try it again on your next kid and see if she learns faster.

  2. GOOD NEWS BAD NEWS - GOOD NEWS first. Armstrong is going for eight wins in the Tour de France this year. BAD NEWS last. Tour de Mukilteo will have a like-a-bike mountain stage.

  3. Okay, I would pay actual money to see the lot of you doing a mountain stage on like-a-bikes. Makes me cry just thinking about it! :D

  4. Why don't we make construction part of the competition. We'll all have to build our own wooden bicycles then race through the lower portion of Japanese Gulch. Like a Soap Box derby but the stakes are higher (life/limb/etc).

  5. I am really impressed at the idea, too bad you failed at it.....next time get your a daughter a real bike. Dad's dont let daughters ride Kmart bikes! -26 Kudos!!!!!!